Wife faces sen­tenc­ing for Christ­mas dis­pute

North Penn Life - - News - By Carl Hessler Jr. chessler@jour­nalregis­ter.com

A Hat­field cou­ple won’t be ex­chang­ing Christ­mas gifts this year, the wife hav­ing been con­victed of charges she men­aced her hus­band with a butcher knife last year dur­ing a quar­rel about his “poor gift choices.”

Karen Pi­lat, 51, for­merly of the 2400 block of Merel Drive, was con­victed in Mont­gomery County Court Wed­nes­day of a misdemeanor charge of sim­ple as­sault in con­nec­tion with the Dec. 25, 2011, ar­gu­ment with her hus­band in­side the Hat­field home they once shared.

“Poor gift choices in the Christ­mas sea­son. I think she turned a lit­tle bit into the ‘drinch’ over Christ­mas. The ar­gu­ment started af­ter Christ­mas din­ner when she opened her gifts and she didn’t like them,” al­leged As­sis­tant District At­tor­ney Cara McMe­namin. “His pro­cras­ti­na­tion and last-minute gift choices turned her into a rag­ing ‘drinch.’”

By con­vict­ing Pi­lat of sim­ple as­sault, Judge dar­rett D. Page, who presided over the non-jury trial, de­ter­mined Pi­lat did at­tempt by phys­i­cal men­ace to put her hus­band in fear of im­mi­nent se­ri­ous bod­ily in­jury.

With a split ver­dict, the judge ac­quit­ted Pi­lat of a charge of reck­lessly en­dan­ger­ing an­other per­son, de­ter­min­ing she didn’t place her hus­band in dan­ger of death or se­ri­ous bod­ily in­jury with her con­duct.

Pi­lat, who was rep­re­sented by de­fense lawyer Richard D. Win­ters, faces a po­ten­tial sen­tence rang­ing from pro­ba­tion to one month in jail. The judge de­ferred sen­tenc­ing so that Pi­lat can un­dergo a psy­cho­log­i­cal and drug and al­co­hol eval­u­a­tion.

Wear­ing a pink polka dot sweater over a white blouse, Pi­lat showed no emo­tion as the judge ren­dered the ver­dict. She re­mains free on bail but the judge or­dered her to have no con­tact with her es­tranged hus­band. The cou­ple re­port­edly no longer lives to­gether.

Dur­ing the trial, the vic­tim tes­ti­fied Pi­lat ex­pected jew­elry and a card ex­press­ing his love for her last Christ­mas. In­stead, the vic­tim gave Pi­lat an artis­tic tile and a Bon­sai or bam­boo plant. An ar­gu­ment en­sued about 11 p.m. Christ­mas night, ac­cord­ing to the ar­rest af­fi­davit filed by Hat­field Town­ship po­lice Of­fi­cer Pa­trick M. Han­ra­han.

“She be­rates him and it gets uglier and uglier,” McMe­namin al­leged.

The vic­tim tes­ti­fied he picked up a cell phone to call po­lice dur­ing the dis­tur­bance and that Pi­lat went to the kitchen and re­trieved a butcher knife with which she threat­ened him be­fore grab­bing the cell phone from him.

Pi­lat didn’t deny be­ing up­set about her hus­band’s gift choices but de­nied threat­en­ing him with the knife.

“I got up­set and was sad about the gifts he gave me,” Pi­lat can­didly told the judge, adding the gifts she re­ceived were more ap­pro­pri­ate for one of the cou­ple’s chil­dren.

Pi­lat claimed she re­trieved the knife, which she pri­mar­ily used to cut veg­eta­bles, with the plan to flat­ten the tires of her hus­band’s car when he threat­ened to leave her.

“I was at­tempt­ing to punc­ture his tires to pre­vent him from leav­ing. My mind was like, ‘I don’t want him to leave,’” Pi­lat tes­ti­fied un­der ques­tion­ing by Win­ters. “All I wanted to do was talk to him.”

Pi­lat claimed she couldn’t punc­ture the tires so she went back in­side the home and had the knife in her left hand be­hind her back. She claimed she saw her hus­band on the phone and grabbed the phone from him with her right hand.

“I did not threaten my hus­band with the knife. I didn’t cut him with the knife,” said Pi­lat, adding she never in­tended to harm her hus­band with the knife.

When po­lice ar­rived at the home, af­ter the vic­tim called 911, they no­ticed the vic­tim had a small cut near his ear, ac­cord­ing to tes­ti­mony.

Win­ters ar­gued the vic­tim’s tes­ti­mony was in­con­sis­tent with state­ments he gave to po­lice at the time of the in­ci­dent.

The vic­tim tes­ti­fied Wed­nes­day that he be­lieved the cut could have come from the knife, but the judge de­ter­mined there was not suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence to prove the cut was from the knife. The vic­tim ap­par­ently did not re­quire any med­i­cal treat­ment.

But the judge also re­jected Pi­lat’s tes­ti­mony that she re­trieved the knife with the in­tent to slash the vic­tim’s tires and failed. Look­ing at a photo of the butcher knife, Page found it in­cred­u­lous that Pi­lat couldn’t flat­ten tires with it.

“The pur­pose of the knife was to come at him in a men­ac­ing man­ner,” Page de­ter­mined.

McMe­namin ar­gued Pi­lat’s “con­scious­ness of guilt” was ev­i­dent by the fact she hid the knife in a trunk in the bed­room and bar­ri­caded her­self in the bed­room by push­ing a dresser in front of the door when po­lice asked her to exit the bed­room. The po­lice had to force the door open to take Pi­lat into cus­tody, ac­cord­ing to tes­ti­mony.

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